A New Tradition of Art Appreciation Begins with the Mardell R. Grant Memorial Scholarship Endowment

Posted February 13, 2023 in Giving

Some gifts are meant to be passed down through the family for generations. For the James Grant family of Ada, Michigan, one of those precious things is an appreciation for the arts.

That was the inspiration behind the new Mardell R. Grant Memorial Scholarship Endowment for Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University students, introduced in 2021. The scholarship was created by James, Blaire, and Mitchell Grant in honor of James’s mother, who shared her passion, appreciation, and knowledge of the arts with James.

Oil painting with a person in a blue shirt and tan hat sitting on a saddle.Artwork by Mardell R. Grant. 

He says, “My mother was raised in an environment that cultured her on the arts. Through her upbringing, she developed her craft and had a profound love for the art community. My mother’s family was intentional about sharing their art-based experiences; setting the precedent early to value the art community and paving a path of opportunity for learning. The arts offered an outlet for my mother. In perspective, KCAD is the conduit between art and student, providing many opportunities.”

Painting of a red-haired person half-clothed looking to the right on a vibrant blue and green background. Mardell R. Grant's oil paintings now live in the Grant family home as a tribute to her legacy and passion for the arts.

When Mardell passed away in 2019, James asked himself how he could pay gratitude to her. “This endowment represents my mother’s voice and her appreciation for the arts,” he says. “I felt this would be a beautiful way to honor her legacy, share her value for the arts, and connect with the community through her support of students at Kendall College of Art and Design.”

James and his wife Blaire have also made a commitment to include their children, Mitchell and Vivienne, in their tradition of honoring the arts. “Although our children did not have the opportunity to meet their grandmother, this endowment signifies a way to learn about her legacy, value the arts, and understand the lesson of paying it forward to the future students at Kendall College of Art and Design. As parents, we have a responsibility to pass down lessons and experiences learned through the generations. Our belief is my mother’s endowment will provide the opportunity to connect our family to the arts, and what both signified to their grandmother.”

Oil painting of a person in a white hat, shirt, and skirt walking along the shore. Artwork by Mardell R. Grant. 

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be enrolled at KCAD, demonstrate financial need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and meet the GPA requirement. “My mother would have wanted this to be open-ended,” James explains. “Her passion was oil-based painting, but she supported all the arts, no matter what genre, so we chose for the scholarship to be applied to any program within KCAD.”

James concludes, “My mother was altruistic by nature. I admire how she demonstrated compassion and empathy for many. In life, and after, my hope is that her impact continues to be as great as it was when she was living.”

Oil painting of a child wearing yellow playing with three dogs with black and white spots and red collars.Artwork by Mardell R. Grant.

The Mardell R. Grant Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually beginning with the 2023-2024 academic year. Applications are open now until February 28, 2023.

To learn more about how you can establish a new scholarship endowment or support scholarship opportunities by contributing to a current scholarship endowment at KCAD please visit kcad.edu/giving

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